A Shadwell teacher who says he passed out after officers held him to the ground with a knee on his head during an arrest has filed a complaint against the Metropolitan Police alleging excessive force.
The Metropolitan Police said yesterday its Professional Standards Unit was investigating two complaints in relation to Mohammed Khan’s arrest on May 6.
Khan says he got into a disagreement with a police officer in the Watney St Londis after trying to help the shopkeeper, who was injured following an incident early in the evening at the shop.
According to Khan, he was held down by four officers with one using his knee to keep his face on the ground causing him to pass out.
He said: “They chucked me in the middle of the road and attacked me like a pack of animals.
“It felt like my face and head were being crushed against the floor, I couldn’t breathe, I was screaming in agony and pain.”
He also said they refused to explain why he was being detained and did not ensure he got proper medical treatment – though says he was taken to hospital before going on to the police station.
A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police said yesterday that Khan was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and resisting arrest.
They added: “Two complaints have been received in relation to the action of police during this incident. Both complaints are being investigated by the Professional Standards Unit based at the Central East Command Unit.”
According to the spokesperson, Khan was “taken to hospital as a precaution after he complained of feeling unwell”.
They added: “He was then taken into custody. He has since been released under investigation.”
The incident took place on the first day of Ramadan. At the station Khan said he was denied food until 11pm – three hours after the incident took place.
He said: “If you can imagine how a person that’s fasting going through the day without any food, any water.
“I was on the verge of passing out again.”
CCTV footage from the scene shows Khan and a police officer talking, and Khan subsequently going out of the shop into a group of officers.
Khan said: “As I was leaving he was mumbling underneath his breath.”
Khan claims that he asked the officer what he said and that the officer then became aggressive. “He came over and he started to push me,” he said.
Khan says he was held at the police station until his solicitor arrived with CCTV footage of the arrest, at which point he was released from custody. He is still under investigation and is waiting to hear if he will be charged.
He said: “I’m assuming they thought that I was a troublesome person, but when they were shown the footage they were shocked.”
Khan has made a call for positive change in the police force, and hopes that taking his story public will encourage a conversation around excessive force by officers.
His case has been taken up by Shadwell councillor Rabina Khan. She said she was worried the incident would damage the relations between the police and the local community.
“I’m a little bit anxious that we’ve had this problem because it takes a lot of work to build trust between the police force and local communities.
“I’m hoping that we can move on by making sure that the police carry out their investigations properly and make sure that whatever they find they call the officers to be responsible for their actions so that something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Khan said he has been left questioning the effectiveness and ability of police, and if they can be trusted with such power from the law when they fail to follow it themselves. “Police shouldn’t be given power to abuse the law.”
Since the incident Khan says he has been suffering from flashbacks and cannot sleep more than a couple hours as he no longer feels safe. He says this is affecting his ability to work, and he is especially concerned what effect this will have on his career as a teacher.
“I just broke down in tears, and at first I couldn’t explain. The words weren’t coming out of my mouth.”
Khan also says he has been left worried that he cannot undo the damage to his reputation, especially within his community.
“I feel embarrassed, to be honest, to show my face in the area.”
Although he has filed formal complaints with the police, Khan is less concerned about a personal apology and more about his story going unheard.
“Not even a sorry apology would make a difference, because they can say sorry but it’s not gonna make a difference, my story has to be heard and people need to see that police officers are abusing power.”
The hold Khan alleges to have been held in is known as the prone restraint. This means that the officers used a knee on Khans upper body to keep him still on the ground while they handcuff him.
The National Police Chiefs Council, the UK representative body for British police chief officers, advise that: “any use of restraint or other force involves increased levels of risk and no period of time spent under restraint (especially prone restraint) is inherently safe.”
Gwenton Sloley, an anti-gang activist who has helped train Met officers, said: “The cuts in police have caused officers to behave in an unpredictably dangerous fashion as no one is holding them accountable for their actions.
“The police need more unconscious bias training.”